The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure kicked off its 25th year of cycling on Saturday night in Urbana.
Known as GOBA, the annual event draws around 2,500 cyclists every year to different parts of Ohio. The beginning and ending town for the 2013 adventure is Urbana.
GOBA is described as a bicycling adventure for all ages. For one week, participants will bike 50 miles a day through scenic areas to the next stop on their journey. Cyclists camp at different locations along the way.
The group of nearly 2,500 will be leaving Sunday from Urbana and travel 48 miles to Troy. From there, towns the crowd will visit include New Bremen, Sidney, and a return trip to Urbana. Two days are set aside as “layover days” to give cyclists a rest with the opportunity of biking 50 or 100 optional miles.
Urbana hosted a GOBA parade and kickoff event for the group with the festivities closing down streets in the center of the city on Saturday evening.
Speakers at the ceremony included Mayor Bill Bean (pictured) and former Ohio Governor Bob Taft. Taft, who has participated in a leg of the tour, referred to the event as a “fantastic experience.”
There were 25 “All-Year Riders” recognized who have been riders for the full 25 years of GOBA.
When asked why they participate in the event year-after-year, many people said the “well-organized” structure of the event is extremely noticeable. They also noted the light-hearted event is a place to meet new people, old friends, and relax.
Julie Van Winkle has been Director of the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure for the past 15 years. She says the event is one-of-a-kind and gives those involved a special view of Ohio.
“It definitely is like one big family for the week,” Van Winkle said. She elaborated on the tight bonds shared by participants and the unique people the event attracts.
Listen to Julie Van Winkle, Director of GOBA, talk about the event
Though the event is centered on the bicycling community, people of all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels are welcome to join in for the intense week.
“You do have to train for this, to ride 50 miles a day, but it’s still a distance that is suitable to do together,” Van Winkle said, referring to the many families and beginners involved.
GOBA is held in a different region of the state each year. They have gone to such places as southeastern Ohio, Amish county, and many locations.
The cycling escapade is also an international affair with cyclists from Canada, Japan, and even Switzerland present to experience Ohio.
Michael Mcomber is a resident of Van Wert and has participated in the event for three years. He said that though he’s not an avid biker, anybody who’s interested can participate with a bit of training.
Listen to cyclists Michael Mcomber and Cindy Shaffner talk about their experience
GOBA is organized by Columbus Outdoor Pursuits, a non-profit group devoted to non- competitive outdoor recreation.